Kiwi are a significant national icon, equally cherished by all cultures in New Zealand. Kiwi are a symbol for the uniqueness of New Zealand wildlife and the value of our natural heritage.
The bird itself is a taonga (treasure) to Maori, who have strong cultural, spiritual and historic associations with kiwi. Its feathers are valued in weaving kahukiwi (kiwi feather cloak) for people of high rank.
Due to the cultural significance to Maori and the traditional knowledge about the bird, tangata whenua are a key stakeholder in kiwi management. For a number of local iwi and hapu throughout New Zealand, this relationship between tangata whenua and kiwi has been formally recognised as part of their Treaty of Waitangi settlement claims, which encompass specific references to species recovery work. This includes the Ngai Tahu Claims Settlement Act 1998.
Kiwi have become flagship species for conservation and are often used as a measure for the state of our natural environment and the outcome and value of community conservation projects.
Today, more than 90 community and iwi-led groups actively protect kiwi over a combined area estimated to be 230,000 ha – very similar to the amount of public conservation land protected by DOC for kiwi. Land is managed for wild populations, as well as at fenced predator-proof sites and on predator-free islands